Sunday 30 June 2013

My Month in Numbers 2013: June

Hi, hi.
  • If you're checking out My Month in Numbers after seeing my article in Jot Magazine then ... Yay! Hello. Come in, come in. Isn't Jot great? You're welcome to have a look around and see how things work.  OR ...
  • If you've heard of My Month in Numbers and are planning to give it a go this month for the first time [I know a few of you have mentioned that was your plan] then ... Hurrah! I told you it was easier than you first thought!  Link me up! I can't wait to see your debut! AND ...
  • If you're a longstanding Number-counter then ... Hello you. You're looking delightful today. Must be all those numbers you've collected. They're clearly doing you the world of good.
  • NOT FORGETTING ... Anyone who just likes to have a read through everyone else's monthly summaries - that's fine by me. You're always so well behaved, I hardly know you're there.  
  • [If, by any chance, you hate numbers and don't like the way this post is heading then ... here, let me gently usher you out ... come back next month ... ]
OK, now we're all acquainted ... let's make a start ...

100 Years = 8th June 2013 marked the centenary of the death of suffragette  Emily Wilding Davison

I've got no photograph to represent this number yet because ... if you're reading this post on the day it goes live then I'll be attending part of the Beamish open air museum 'Suffragette Celebration Weekend' ... so, expect plenty of photos of the day's events to come!

As it turns out 2013 is not just the anniversary of this particular landmark in women's history ... it also marks the 200th anniversary of the publication of Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice ... which is where my next set of numbers come in ...

23, 24, 25 = the number on our tickets when my Mam, sister and I went to see costume  historian Gillian Stapleton deliver her 'Jane Austen's Wardrobe' presentation
I took photos of these beforehand thinking [correctly as it turns out] that they'd take our tickets off us when we arrived. It's almost as if not everyone's a scrapbooker and they just don't understand the importance of keeping this kind of ephemera! I really should have asked to keep it shouldn't I?

1790s - 1820s = the time period -in costume - covered in the presentation
Picture the scene: the beautiful space of the Reference Library [think 'tiny portion of Hogwarts library]; rows of wooden chairs with monograms carved into the back and with comfy cushions on the seat; a room full of 'ladies of a certain age' ... and ... an hour long presentation all about history of the kinds of costume worn by Jane Austen's heroines with readings from Austen's novels and letters.

Fashion history is one of my longest standing interests - I remember an infant school visit to a museum where I used my 'spending money' to buy a colour-in poster of fabulous Victorian / Edwardian outfits. And as much as I loved the prose in last year's BBC Hollow Crown Shakespeare adaptations ... I was just as enraptured with the leather-work of the costumes. And don't even get me started on the millinery in ITV's Miss Marple ...

But I digress! In short ... it was a perfect afternoon for me! [Thank you Jo + Mam for humouring me and coming along! xx]

Chapter 49 = the chapter of Austen's Emma I just had to go and revisit after the presentation!
I think it was that outfit [on the left in the photo above] that really gave me the urge to revisit Emma and - more specifically - to wallow in the love declarations of Mr Knightley which, for me ... are quite simply some of the most romantic words ever ...

"I cannot make speeches, Emma," he soon resumed; and in a tone of such sincere, decided, intelligible tenderness as was tolerably convincing. "If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more."

[And yes, I am swooning as I type!]

Oh and, while we're on the subject of books ...

4 = the number of books I read  [all of which are now linked-up on my Pinterest board
  • The appropriately numerical Eight White Nights by Andre Aciman
  • The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry [if you like Jasper Fforde - this might be for you
  • The Silver Linings Playbook novel by Matthew Quick [the film-makers kept pretty faithful to this original story - so if you liked the movie - you will probably like the novel]
  • and The Messenger of Athens by Anne Zouroudi
2 miles = the approximate distance of the new route I've been taking on my morning walks
I feel like I say this on a near daily basis but ... I don't have a smartphone which means I don't have any apps that can measure the distance I've walked or the number of steps I take. So I've had to gauge this distance using Google maps. And the silly thing [for someone who counts things every month] is that I haven't kept track of how many times I've walked the route ... so I don't know my total!

And talking of walking ...

£3 = the amount I paid for these lovely frilly pink pumps in the sales [shown here standing before wording on the floor of the MIMA gallery. And yes, I did relax and wonder about Carl Andre's work.]
For £3 I can even overlook the fact that they kind of nip at my Achilles heel a little ...

4 = the number of craft magazine projects I worked on 
And half of them  were ... brace yourself now for I'm about to drop the 'C' word ... wait for it ... they were Christmas projects!

It's the same schedule every year and yet every year if feels so very unnatural to have to 'Ho, Ho, Ho' in June!

And finally ...

23 = the number of bloggers who linked me up with their May in numbers
Seems like memory-keeping-by-numbers is getting very popular with people called 'Jo'!

And the number of names on that list that begin with a 'J' is giving even my local crop a run for its money where ... at any given time we can - confusingly- have in attendance:
  • a Jean
  • a Jackie
  • a Janet
  • a Judith
  • two Julies
  • a Julia
  • ... and one of the aforementioned 'Jo's!
OK ... so that's my facts and figures for June ... and now, whether or not your name begins with J ...

Here's how YOU can join in with us:
If you've never joined in before there's a lot more information on the Month in Numbers page - including a 'How To' guide to inspire you. [You don't need to follow any guidelines other than those I'm about to set out below ... everything else I'll leave up to your own creative  interpretation!]
**Please note: I can only 'pin' a post to the board if it contains at least one image/photo. Otherwise I can only leave a comment and smile at you from a distance**

So ... if you want to share a link to your Month in Numbers post / photo / layout etc for me to then visit, comment on, and pin to the communal Month in Numbers Pinterest board then ...
  • Leave a link to your numbers in a comment on this blog post ... but ... 
  • When you swing by my blog to drop it off - please leave a comment for me while you're there. Not because I'm needy ... but because it's nicer if you don't just throw your link on my table and leave without saying hello!  
  • Please remember to link to my blog in your post. As much as I'd like to think that everyone who reads your blog already knows what 'My Month in Numbers' is [hey, it's nice to be popular, right?] ... the truth is, they don't. So unless you explain to your readers where the idea comes from and how they can join in too, they'll never know.
  • And finally ... please try to take time at some point in the coming month to visit and comment on a few of the other posts too. It really does help build a community both around My Month in Numbers .. but also around your own blog space.
If - after reading through all the info on the Month in Numbers page of my blog - you still have any questions just get in touch. My email's in my right sidebar as are the links to my Facebook page and Twitter.

And, if you're waiting for the topic of our first big 'Communal Count' - where we'll all count something similar over the coming month and share our results at the end - then come back tomorrow ...

Thanks for coming today. See you tomorrow. Happy July to you!


Friday 28 June 2013

Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt 2013: Tilting at windmills

Hi again.
[If you want to play along with the Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt then make sure to visit Rinda over at Gallo Organico for all the details.]

So ... I've got another item to cross off my list  ... but I'm pretty sure you're going to accuse me of cheating.

And yet ... here it is anyway ... [I'm a rebel like that.]

Item No.16: A windmill
This is the label inside my gorgeously soft black leather bag [the kind of bag of simplistic-perfection I'd been seeking for a long time!] and, while it may not immediately seem connected to summertime life ... I promise you it is.

During the summer I work from home and my days are as flexible as my deadlines and self-discipline will allow. And on some of those days - although far fewer than you might imagine - I take myself out on a little shopping trip. The kind that doesn't involve bread, milk and toilet roll.

And so, after doing a spot of invoicing over breakfast ... I decided I'd worked hard enough over the previous week that a new dress might just be in order. So out I went. Which is what I was doing when I realised that I actually didn't need to go hunting out that windmill ... and that I had one with me all along.

[I know... it's like the ruby slippers of the bag world!]

I was in my car, leaning over into the passenger seat, rummaging in my bag to check I'd put my phone in there, when I spotted it:
Note how I'd packed the essentials of a British summer in there ... with my flowery rain mac nestling against my sunglasses!

And on the outside of the bag ... another windmill for good measure:
So that's my case for adding this windmill logo to my list of summertime treasures found! I know it's not a 'real' one ... but then neither were the giants that Don Quixote thought he'd found when he spotted windmills in the distance!
Needless to say ... if I find a 'real' one [a real windmill that is ... not a real giant ... ] I'll snap that too.
Julie :-) 
p.s: If you're a Month-in-Numbers blogger/doer/sharer [hey, we need to work on a better title for us all than that one ...] then just a reminder that we're getting to that time.
  • My numbers will be here on Sunday ...
  • ... but you're welcome to join me anytime afterwards.
  • And if you fancy joining in but haven't been counting anything all month - don't let that stop you ... just flip through the photos you've taken or your diary / blog / Twitter feed / Facebook timeline / Instagram  ... anywhere you keep a record of your days ... and just pick out some facts and figures from there. Sorted!

Thursday 27 June 2013

Summertime Photography Scavenger hunt 2013: the MIMA edition

Hello, hello.
When I first began typing out this post my hair was still drying out from the rain I got caught in on a very short walk/ sprint out of the downpour. And - for the record - no, that 'shower-proof' mac I mentioned last week really isn't deluge proof. I refer you to one very damp shirt as evidence! 
But all this rain can mean only one thing ... that it's summer in England! and so ... let's get on with crossing some more photos off that Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt list ...

[If you want to play along with the Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt then make sure to visit Rinda over at Gallo Organico for all the details.]


All of today's items were captured last week when my Mam, my sister and I went into Middlesbrough to attend the Jane Austen's Wardrobe presentation given by costume historian Gillian Stapleton. But before the event we had lunch in and a browse around MIMA [our local modern art gallery] and the town square surrounding it which is where I found ...

Item No.3: City Hall, Capitol or other similar civic building

This is the first of two items I snapped that same afternoon that not only fulfil the brief set by Rinda ... they rather helpfully have their category written on them to prove it! So - as the sign above the door here suggests - here's the Civic Centre:
Now if only Rinda's list had asked for 'a cyclist doing a wheelie' too ... I'd have been ecstatic to have another one to cross off my list at the same time! Did you spot him?

Item No.9:
A photo with someone or something that is clearly out of place or doesn't belong ...

This is the MIMA gallery garden with the 100 year old Central Library backing on to it. So far so what you'd anticipate seeing in a town centre.

But ...

...  what are those things in the floor there?
Why those are two giant Boeing aircraft engines from decommissioned military surveillance planes which have subsequently had anti-depressants tucked away inside them by artist Roger Hiorns in a piece called Untitled (Alliance).

But you knew that really didn't you? You were just teasing ...

Item No.10: A bench that is outside ...

Don't believe me that this is indeed a bench?

Think that my mother's just been clambering on a modern art installation?
Well think again ... and read the small print at the bottom of the photo!

And here it is from the side:

Item No.13: A fence ...

This metal fence [that reminds me of church organ pipe] surrounds the MIMA garden.

And finally for our little trip around MIMA ...

Item No.18: Your local pub/bar, coffee house or tea shop ...
OK , so this isn't my local café per se. [It's a 15 minute drive away].

But then ... I've never been into the pub that's nearest to my house and alas ... we don't have any cafés or coffee shops nearby either. [Not unless you count those few tables in the fish + chip shop ... and I don't.] I'm afraid café culture hasn't really hit close to our estate just yet and so ... the MIMA café, which we visit fairly often, will have to do.

But if I visit one closer to home before the end of the hunt ... I'll share that one too!


In case you're ever in the area and get the urge for some modern art and a nice cuppa - here's the MIMA website.

Right .... I'll go and cross these 5 off the list ... and  I'll see you soon.


Wednesday 26 June 2013

An Art-Journal Page: from start-to-finish No.3 'Pain Has a Thousand Faces'

Hello, hello.

It's been over a year since I shared one of these photo step-by-steps [there must be a BIG secret cupboard somewhere where all the time goes because I don't know where it went ... ] and so, as I've had a little breathing space this week, I felt it was about time I share another!

My earlier step-by-steps can be found here:
.. and they're some of the most popular, most visited and most commented upon posts I've created .... so I really hope this new one find the right people once again.

  • you'd like to try out a new creative outlet that doesn't involve investing in expensive new supplies
  • you've been thinking of trying out art journaling but don't know where to start
  • you've seen some amazing finished art journal pages and are now afraid that it's a dark art ... that there's a great artistic mystique to it, that it's not for you
  • you're at your best when you can break down a technique into manageable chunks [perhaps due to time, physical or psychological constraints]
*Pin / save this page for future reference!
When I'm not attending a class or experimenting with any new techniques I tend to revert to two styles of Art Journaling which feel most natural to me:
  • One of these relies mainly on layers of paper and collage elements ... which is the style I find easiest to work on while curled up on the sofa in front of the TV!
  • Meanwhile the other is the one I turn to when I have more time to play - and when I'm sitting at a safe distance from anything I can stain .. and this one involves more paint, sprays, stamps, masks/stencils and general messiness!
And that's the one we're going to lift the lid on today ... so be prepared to get a little inky with me ...

THE FINISHED PAGE - 'Pain Has a Thousand Faces':
It's always a leap of faith when I decide I'm going to take step-by-step photos of a process ... as I've absolutely no plan and no idea as to how the finished thing will turn out! My biggest fear is always that after putting in so much time into stopping and starting to take the photos as I build the page ... that the end result won't be worth it!
And, if I'm honest, there were a few stages of this page's development where I really just wanted to close the book and forget all about it. But ... I persevered and am fairly happy with it now.
Happy enough to make a full tutorial from it anyway!
And, if nothing else, it affords me the opportunity to share my own creative insecurities with you ... so hopefully, even if you've been unsure of making a start, you might feel more able to give it a try yourself!
Here goes ...
STEP 1: Spritz a blank page using spray ink + a mask 
You don't have to have any special stencils or masks for this step.

The grid I've used here is just a section of cheap plastic embroidery canvas and it's one of my favourite ways to add patterns to my pages. I spray through the grid then flip it over and press the reverse pattern on to the page.

Alternatively you can try sequin waste, cheap alphabet stencils, lace, the surrounds from sticker sheets and chipboard letters ... anything which you don't mind getting ink on in fact!

STEP 2: Squirt a light shade of acrylic paint directly on to the page and spread it around the edges
I have a thing for white, off-white and cream paints - I always find they come in useful for both a base layer and also on top - when the page might need a few highlights.

I know there are lots of quality paints available - and undoubtedly they each serve a purpose - but, for me, when I just want to add colour and mess around, when there's no great need for the paint to do anything specialised ... I'm happy to buy the cheapest general craft paint I can find.

My sponge is actually Cut N Dry foam which I use with all my ink pads, spray inks and paints.

STEP 3: Add scraps of patterned paper using a gel medium [or PVA/white glue if you prefer]
Any scrapbookers and cardmakers amongst the wannabe art journalers take note: your existing stash will combine perfectly well with your new hobby so there's no great need to buy lots of new supplies*.  [* rest assured that this isn't to say you're not allowed to go and buy more if you so wish!]
Whenever I mention that I use gel medium I get asked [a] if it's necessary and [b] where to find it and so ...
  • [a] It's up to you, but personally I find gel medium is smoother and easier to spread than sticky white glues like PVA. And it definitely sticks firmer than just a glue stick.
  • I tend to spread it not only on the back of the items I stick down but also over the top as a way to 'seal' it and to really flatten out any curling edges.
  • and [b] it's often sold next to tubes of artists paints in art + craft shops. Mine came from my local Hobbycraft.   
STEP 4:  Add more stencilled designs over and around the scraps of paper

STEP 5: Add more paper scraps in a nice flowing arc ...
Do you have a pile of old craft magazines lurking in your attic? The kind that included pull-out patterns for embroidery designs and so on? Or do you ever spot any old issues in charity shops or car-boot sales etc? 

Well next time you come across one have a look inside for those pattern sheets because - while you may not want to make the project they're from - they  make really interesting background designs and textures on your mixed-media work!  That's what I've used here:

STEP 6: Stamp general / abstract / background designs around the edges of the page using a similar shade of ink* to your background colours [*thanks to Kate Crane for that top tip!]
When you've stamped the design once - there's no need to ink up the stamp again - just keep pressing the stamp down until all the ink has gone. This way your stamped design moves across the page with subtle changes in the depth of colour throughout.

I used the Infocrea 'Abstract' stamp set above and again here, this time in a light yellowy-orange to compliment my existing shades of green and blue:
Can you see how there's a real depth of layering appearing now? This is when a background can really begin to come to life. When it stops feeling like an anonymous bare canvas and starts to look ... dare I say it ... like art!

However ... if you've gone a little too far with any of this layering at [for example here I stamped in a grey that came out drab and dark and I just didn't like it] then DO NOT DESPAIR!!

You can always ...

STEP 7: Assess areas of the page that would benefit from some white paint or Gesso to brighten them up / hide mistakes! 
Just use a glue spreader, scrap of plastic, sponge, paintbrush .... or finger .... until the background feels bright again. Now you're ready for a focal point ...

STEP 8: Browse through old books, magazines, junk mail, leaflets, catalogues etc for an interesting image
or better still create your own Frankenstein image from a combination of a few! This is absolutely one of my favourite favourite parts of the process!

Here the body of the fish came from an old children's' encyclopaedia and the mannequin head came from a promotional postcard for an opera that fell out of my weekend newspaper supplement ages ago [I'd been hoarding it safely ever since!]

Use gel medium again to fix it to the page.

STEP 9: Unscrew the nozzle from a bottle of spray ink and tap it so little drops land on the page 
I've used a silvery black shade here to introduce a dark shade to balance the colour of my mannequin image. But, as the drops of ink are so small [and as I control how many I add] I know it wont 'dirty' my page as much as if I stamped another design with a black ink pad or something like that.

STEP 10: Sift through a variety of old book pages until a phrase or two finds you - then cut it out 
I'm a firm believer that the right words find you. You don't find them.

Take inspiration from the image you chose - let your mind wander to what it represents to you - or what it could represent if you let it ... and just skim read through your pages. Then inevitably something leaps out at you and just feels appropriate for that page.

Small confession: I selected the phrase below before I selected my focal image and instead browsed for images I felt could represent it. But whichever way around you do it image then wording / wording then image ... it's when they work together that your journal page will gain a cohesive narrative. Tell a clear story.
Oh and ... I absolutely love to combine phrases which have come from widely varying original sources.

The phrase above was a chapter title from a medical research book while the snippets below are taken from a 1960s novel for teenage girls and a kids' annual:
I'm currently working on a series of 'found' poems / short-short stories using this technique and - while it's a little scary to feel this way - I think I might have just landed upon my 'thing'. The technique that feels 'right'. The one I can see myself doing for a long time ... and it's exciting!

Anyway ...

...if you can't face cutting into a book yourself or you'd like some 'new blood' to add to your old paper collection then have a browse around the Plundered Pages section of my shop.

STEP 11: Assess if the page needs a final splash of colour. Like neon green. And if it does ... then splash it on! 
Using my old faithful Lost Coast Designs 'Zebra Stripe' border stamp I livened the page up a little as it was beginning to feel quite 'safe' and flat. But, as I didn't want to ruin the entire colour palette I'd created so far,  I again paid heed to that tip of using an ink pad in a similar shade. Albeit in neon this time round!

And I was much happier after that zesty colour boost!

As you can see I stamped over the image in places - just to help it settle down into the page so it didn't feel too free-floating.
Or free swimming.

Or however a half fish / half mannequin would sit on a page!
STEP 12: Add some 'journaling' ...  
Now for the big question people ask about art journal pages: do I really have to write on them?

To which I'm going to reply ...
  • Nope. It's entirely your call. You're a big girl/boy now [most likely bigger than me] so I'm not going to force you to do anything!
  • I hadn't intended to write on this page at all
  • I wasn't entirely sure where the feeling behind my snipped phrases had come from [like I say - it found me] and so I wasn't sure I had anything to add anything right at that moment however ...
  • I left it overnight and, when I came back to it the following morning I was reminded of a quotation that just seemed perfect for it. So I added that, by hand, around the outside edges:
And, to save you scrolling back up ... here's the end result once again so you can judge how those 12 steps mounted up to a finished page:
So, what do you think? 
  • Does art journaling feel do-able yet?
  • Has it helped you break down what a page can consist of?
  • Are you relieved to learn that white paint is the enemy of mistakes?
  • Do you see how there's no 'right' way to begin ... or to continue ... but that you just keep adding and tinkering and browsing?
I'd love to hear your feedback
  • so do leave a comment here with any thoughts, ideas or questions [I can't reply directly through my comments - but do try to answer people's queries in one way or another!]
  • or drop by my Facebook Page and
  • if you use Pinterest please consider pinning the tutorial so other people can find it too.
I'll look forward to hearing from you and seeing any pages you might make after reading through the steps again!
Julie :-)
Supplies available from 3DJean [I'm a Design Team member for the 3DJean blog]
Other supplies:
Daler Rowney Gel Glaze Medium - Matt
Inkssentials Cut N Dry foam
Ranger Archival Ink - Viridian
Hero Arts Neon ink - Green
American Crafts 'Amy Tangerine - Ready, Set, Go' roller date stamp

Sunday 23 June 2013

Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt 2013: Capturing the tower

Hi hi hi.

 I'm one of those people who:
  • likes taking photos
  • and who also likes lists and
  • likes crossing things off lists and
  • if I'm realistic ... I work best when I have a deadline and so ...
... that's why I really enjoyed taking part in the Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt hosted by Rinda at Gallo Organico last year ... and, more to the point, why I'm joining in once again this year.

It's also a fun and structured way for me to document and share various unconnected moments of my summer and - if you followed any of my Push-Up Bra Blogging tips you'll know that structure really can be a blogger's best friend! And to help keep me on track I've added the whole list to my sidebar <<< and will add links to each item as and when I blog the photo.

This year Rinda's list contains 21 items [plus two substitutes] for us all to seek out and snap before Sept 21st so all I have to do is keep my eyes open for things that fit the categories while I'm out and about [even though there's a list ... there's still plenty of room to add your own creative interpretation ... there's no right or wrong photo to take] and then drop them into a blog post ... like this ...

Item No.8: A Tower

Well ... if you're going to have to find yourself a tower ... you might as well find one belonging to a castle ...
We walked by the remains of the East Tower of Helmsley Castle on a little family trip around Helmsley [North Yorkshire] last Thursday.

There's been a castle, in one sort or another, on that site for 900 years, however this particular tower is a little less historic than that. At just 700+ years old it's almost a new-build in comparison ...

Here it is again from the other side:
And here's the view I had when I turned around after taking that photo :
I can't resist taking photos of people taking photos.  Now all I need to do is check whether Mam's photo of the tower [which I think she was taking here] also features me taking a photo of her taking a photo of it ... OK, I think I'm getting a bit dizzy thinking about that now ...


I'll have some more Scavenger Hunt photos to tick off my list in the coming days - if you want to play along make sure to visit Rinda over at Gallo Organico for all the details.

Then this time next week it'll be time for My Month in Numbers again. [I know. I don't know how June's almost over either.]

Thank you for all your great topic suggestions for the big Month in Numbers'  'communal count' .... I'm going to make a full list and then decide which to try out first.

Wishing you a happy new week ahead.

Julie :-)

Friday 21 June 2013

Have you seen: Jot Magazine?

Hello hello.

A new, online and free magazine for 'modern memory keepers' was launched today by Kim Archer and her team. And here it is ... meet 'Jot' :

When I heard about Jot and its philosophy I really wanted to be part of it ... how about you? Any of this sound familiar?:  
And so ... I responded to their call for contributions and now my article all about My Month in Numbers, [where the idea came from, how to join in, why it works for me and others] is now nestled happily in this debut issue alongside several examples from some faithful Month in Numbers bloggers too.
So ... may I suggest you schedule a little 'me' time along with the first issue of Jot, your drink of choice and your most comfy chair? That should ease you nicely into the weekend I reckon.
Enjoy ... and I'll see you soon.
Julie :-)

Tuesday 18 June 2013

My Month in Numbers: the communal count - opinions wanted!

Hi, hi.

How's things? It's been a wonderfully sunny day here and tomorrow is tipped to be the warmest of the year ... which reminds me ...

During May's Month in Numbers post I floated the idea that occasionally we might all keep a count or record the numbers of the same sort of thing so that we can compare our vital statistics ... and temperature was one of the categories I had in mind. Not that I'm quite sure how that'd work ... but maybe it could be something like we all note down the average temperature where we live one month? Maybe!

But while I'm still not certain on the details ... I am sure that, as a general idea, it would be worth trying because, really, we've done it before. Remember? ...
Last year many of you joined in with my Height of Summer project where we blogged about how tall [or not] we were.

And, after sharing those figures we suddenly all had a clearer picture of how we'd measure up if we all got together and lined up in size order. Just those 3 little numbers somehow revealed so much more about us and made for some great blog-reading.  [OK, so many of us cheated and tried to add extra numbers-  I personally added the all important 1/4 inches to my otherwise measly 5ft 2!]

And so ... I'm hoping that this new communal [and entirely optional] addition to My Month in Numbers might give us a similar - but more regular - glimpse into how we're alike ... and where we differ!

And I'd love to hear your ideas on what we could measure and record ...
If you saw my May Month in Numbers [or the scrapbook page I made afterwards] you'll have seen the tally-chart I made while keeping count of all the hours of crime drama I watched during the month. And, in a similar vein I already document the number of books I read each ... and I thought maybe in a future month we could all count the number of films we watch.

But what else is there?

I know it's inevitable that whatever topic I choose there'll be someone who doesn't feel it applies to them [like if I asked you to count how many episodes of The Archers you listened to or how many Root Beers you drank. Or how many Root Beers you drank while listening to The Archers.]

So, I'd like to get a feel for what you think.
  • What could you count up, collate, document, scribble on a notebook throughout a month?
  • What is there that's specific enough to keep track of ... 
  • ... but general enough that someone else could play along with?
Once you've thrown some ideas at me I'll try to pull out the common threads from your responses and come up with some categories for future My Month in Numbers posts ... and we'll see how it goes from there!

So, get thinking and get back to me - you don't need to be a My Month in Numbers blogger to lob in a suggestion. The more ideas the better. Thank you in advance.

 Right, I'm going to duck out of the way while you start throwing ...

Julie :-)

Monday 17 June 2013

Simply a Moment [June]: Then off, off forth ...

Hi, hi.

Things have been veeeeeerrrrry quiet around here this month, I know. If you subscribe to my occasional email catch-up / update/ chatter then you'll have heard from me last week ... but other than that ...

I've been having a little healthy I'm-keeping-away-before-I-begin-to resent-blogging-blog-break or ... if you followed my Push-Up Bra Blogging series then I've been taking what we might also refer to as: 'The Kenny Rogers Approach'.  Know when to walk away ... and all that!

However ... as I also covered in that series ... it's useful to have a few regular themes and on-going types of post in your repertoire, just to keep you pottering along during the dry spells [or the times when just looking at your blogging dashboard makes you shudder]. And so ...

...  I wanted to pop in today to share my response to the 'Simply A Moment' meme created by Simply Alexa where once a month, you can stop, pause and record something which could otherwise have disappeared into the ether. [To learn more you can read Alexa's tips on how to record your own moments and  if you do join in, there's a link box there for you to add your post.]

Then off, off forth ...*

Date: Saturday 15th June2013
Time: 10:35am > onwards
Location: a walk from home to Tesco

"So, how long do you think this'll take then?" asks James of the walk we've got planned. A man more used to being a driver than a pedestrian.

"30, 35 minutes" I reply, casting my mind back to the last time I walked a similar route.

I glance down, check the time on my watch - 10.34ish - and we head off up the drive and out into the street.

"I don't think I've ever walked this far along here in this direction before" he states once we pass the post box.

"You've never lived". I reply, smiling, shaking my head at the suburban safari we're now taking, where the main road I've trodden countless times is suddenly the road less travelled.

Not even 5 minutes from home and here's the rain. Light, sporadic, but enough to make my hair unruly. So out comes my floral print shower-proof mac. Pulling the hood up I think, mmm, yes, shower proof .... maybe. But deluge proof? No way. And I scan the sky for threateningly dark clouds and fortunately find none. Anyway ... this is an adventure after all, I don't think Dr. Livingstone here will be letting rain stop play.

We both step aside to allow an elderly man on a motorised chair to pass. Moments later, as if in an act of universal balance, a young boy on a scooter whizzes by propelling himself enthusiastically with his young legs.

"We'd get there quicker if we'd come on one of those" James says as the boy accelerates away out of sight. "The only thing is ... if you hit anything ... you got straight over the top".

Probably best not to let me near one then.

As we walk parallel to the playing fields the wind - like the hand of an older, teasing sibling - holds me back. Pushes my shoulders. Ruffles my hair.

With it's bluster in my ears I hear a line from a Gerard Manley Hopkins poem* repeating in my head: "the hurl and gliding rebuffed the big wind."

Do you hear that wind? I'm rebuffing you I think as we round the corner in front of the Fire Station where I come to a halt. James slows and turns to me, questioning.

"I need a 'fire truck' for the Summertime Photo Scavenger Hunt" I explain. But we look, and there are none parked outside. And I don't think they'd take kindly to me asking to be let in with my camera.

But never mind there's always ...

"Do you think this  would pass for 'a nature preserve'?" I ask, sceptically, of the area of playing field that, after flooding several years back, never dried out and now resembles a mangrove swamp and is inhabited by various ducks and moorhens:
"I don't see why not" he replies. And so I take out my camera and seek out the birds.

And for a moment I'm Hushpuppy from Beasts of the Southern Wild and this isn't a damp corner of a suburban town but a flooded bayou. Then I take the photos and we move along.

Looking down all I see is litter. Discarded correspondence bearing the letterhead from the nearby secondary school. A Pepsi Max tin. An empty bottle of '75% stronger' windscreen wash.

But, raising my eyes higher, I spot a horse in the field. And above that, the hills. My hills. Our hills.

"If you didn't know there were so many houses in between here and there" says James gesturing to the hilltops "you'd never know from here would you?" asks James.

"No." I reply, "It's glorious." Click:
"So, how long's it taken then?" asks James as we turn our backs to the scenery and wait for a break in traffic to cross the road and head into the supermarket. Our destination.
Looking at my watch and counting up the time elapsed I say: "25 minutes ... I can't believe it ... I was sure it usually took longer than that" I'm baffled.
"And we've been dawdling" I say, thinking about all that Scavenger hunting and mangrove daydreaming.  
"Yes, there's been dawdling" he repeats.
"Maybe I've got faster?" I ponder.
"Maybe you have". 
And [because this is what I'm like] I want to think there's something pithy and profound in this moment, in this reply. But I think he literally just means I walk faster.
Maybe I dawdle more when I'm walking on my own ... or maybe it just feels longer ... and then we cross the road. Together.   
So that's my June moment - don't forget to hop over to visit Alexa where you can join in with your own too.

And, if you're a poetry lover ... and even if you're not ... you might like to read through The Windhover - the Gerard Manley Hopkins poem I referred to.

I'll see you later this week.

Julie :-)

Monday 10 June 2013

Scrapbooking 'My Month in Numbers': May 2013

Hello, hello.

Here's a confession for you: I've worn the same dress for two days in a row now [don't worry, I'll wear a fresh one tomorrow. I promise]. And as a result of this fact, this morning, after I'd pulled the dress over my head, straightened myself up and then looked in the mirror do you know what I found stuck to my chest? Something which must have been lurking down the cleavage from the last time I wore it?

A turquoise number '6' sticker. Naturally.

Which, really, should give you a clue as to what I was doing while wearing the dress yesterday. [Come on. Surely you know me well enough by now?]. Here's a big clue [and by 'clue' I mean 'the answer']:
Since creating the 'Month in Musings' printable journaling card set this is my 2nd attempt at a Month in Numbers scrapbook page.

My last layout, which was actually my first layout ... oh,  you know what I  mean. OK, my previous Month in Numbers layout [April's] was quite minimal, linear and with a reduced colour-palette. So, this time around I wanted to showcase some of the brighter cards in the Month in Musings set. Like these:
I also wanted to have lots of layering on this one - partly to show you can use lots of cards on one page [I've used 4 here] and also to get to use quite a few patterned papers in there too [they really are my favourite crafty supply!]. 

Plus I wanted to make room on it not only for a few small photos, but for the tally-chart I made last month counting up all the hours of crime drama I'd watched. For a moment there I almost went to print off the photo I'd taken of it - which I shared here in my April Month in Numbers post. But then ...  I realised ... I could just tear it out of the notebook and stick it to my layout! Am I a genius or what? Just call me Sherlock ...
And of course, as I'm faithfully keeping track of all the books I read this year I listed them here on one of the printable cards:
[BTW: as much I loved The Silver Linings Playbook book ... I've just realised I read it in June ... and not May ... so it's going to have to come off that page now!

But at least that's one of the advantages of having a printable set of cards - I can just go and print out a new one!

And no - I didn't do it deliberately to make a savvy marketing point - I'm just an idiot!


This month I'm keeping a tally of all the people who join in with My Month in Numbers [the majority of which I've been able to pin to the board]. If you haven't already joined in with your May facts + figures yet there's no closing date ... whenever you're ready so am I.

I'll be back later in the week when we can have that chat about what we could all count up together one month ... get your thinking caps on and I'll catch up with you soon.

Julie :-)


p.s: I've had a substantial shop update in the last week, with more new products on the way, hence how quite things have been here. But there's lots going on over there, so if you're looking for a little crafty kit treat ... hop over and see what floats your paper boat